Winter can put a serious damper on activities and events. Between frigid temperatures, shorter days, and treacherous snow and ice, the temptation to hibernate until spring is strong -- particularly for older adults who may face more limitations than the rest of us. However, maintaining strength of both body and mind is an important part of weathering the winter for a stronger spring, summer and fall. Let’s count down four ways to help seniors stay active this season.
1. Social Matters
While the holidays may bring with them a rush of social commitments, the post-holiday letdown usually includes a lull in opportunities for socialization. Unfortunately, this can lead to increasing incidences of isolation in seniors.
Whether you schedule a standing weekly lunch date or look into local clubs for seniors, make sure your aging loved one has plenty of chances to connect with friends and family. Not only will these engagements get your loved one out and about, but they also have the ability to boost morale and immunity.
2. Get Moving
While the temptation to curl up on the couch is strong when the weather outside is frightful, seniors -- like the rest of us -- need to move their bodies to stay strong. Exercise has profound benefits, including everything from lifting the spirits to building strength and balance. Many community centers and senior organizations offer fitness classes for aging adults, but even a daily walk around the neighborhood is effective. An added bonus? Getting out on a sunny winter afternoon delivers a solid dose of healthy vitamin D. If bad weather forces you to stay inside, try a chair exercise workout or fitness DVD instead.
3. Boost the Brain
Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of physical strength and stamina. Brain fitness is also critical, especially for seniors who may have fewer things to keep them busy in the winter. Encourage your aging loved one to do at least an hour's worth of daily mind-stimulating activities, such as puzzles, brain teasers, or just reading a good book. Or consider scheduling a multi-generational afternoon of cards and board games. The young and old alike will both enjoy -- and benefit from -- the company and the mental stimulation.
Listening to music is also an effective way to engage and energize the mind, as are other artistic endeavors, such as painting, coloring, sculpting and sketching.
4. Get Cooking
Cooking gets seniors off their feet and into the kitchen.Find one of your loved one's favorite recipes, gather the ingredients, and set aside a morning for cooking together. The act of following a recipe, preparing a meal, and sharing it with others helps keep the mind sharp while promoting manual dexterity. Plus, the benefits of communal meals for seniors are well-known. Bonus points for choosing a recipe that’s both healthy and delicious!
While staying active in the winter months poses some additional challenges for older adults, the payoffs in strength, confidence and morale are well worth the effort. And remember: while your aging loved one may hesitate to try new things, your support and encouragement can go a long way.
Keeping the mind and body active during the winter months is important to maintaining overall well-being, especially for older adults.
Social activities, physical exercise, and mind-stimulating activities can provide great benefits during winter weather.
Other outlets for boosting strength and morale include creative arts activities, cooking, and sharing meals with others.
About Marissa Salvesen
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Connect with Marissa Salvesen
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